Recent survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that driving while using a cellphone has increased over the past year despite the fact that this has been banned by a large number of states. How widespread is this problem? According to reports about distracted driving, 18% of people surveyed by NHTSA admitted to having sent text messages or emails while driving and half of 21 to 24 admitted to driving while texting. This is a major problem.
As everyone can see, this behavior is growing and the results are often devastating. According to NHTSA’s statistics, 9.4% of traffic fatalities were distracted driving related. According to many other studies, driving while texting is as dangerous or even more dangerous than DUI. The problem is, there is a huge hypocrisy in the way law makers treat both of these crimes.
Both DUI and distracted driving are crimes that are fatally dangerous. Both have claimed lives of innocent people with bright futures in front of them. However, DUI is treated as a serious criminal offense that results in jail time, license suspension, heavy fines and a permanent criminal offense while distracted driving is “penalized” with a slap-on-the-wrist $50 ticket or some such minor punishment.
The message I get from this hypocrisy is that lawmakers want to save the lives of those killed by DUI but don’t care about those killed by distracted driving. That’s the wrong message to send. How am I wrong?